by Laura Steiger, Outreach Team
K’UL recently redesigned its packaging to feature one of the women partners they work with from each country of origin. The new packaging is also very innovative, featuring a resealable zippered pouch to keep your chocolate fresh after opening and eliminating one layer of packaging. In 2020, K’UL will introduce a fully sustainable 100% compostable pouch, further minimizing its environmental footprint.
Photo courtesy of K’UL Chocolates.
A New Look
Frequent visitors to the chocolate aisle may have noticed a change recently.
BIJA has changed their name to K’UL and revamped their packaging.
The word K’UL is Mayan for ‘the energy and interconnectivity between all living things.'
Paul Newman and Ari Lee-Newman, owners of K’UL Chocolates, said “the acquisition of K’UL is the next stage of the seed we planted with BIJA. The word K’UL is Mayan for ‘the energy and interconnectivity between all living things.’ This word encapsulates everything we are trying to do.
A Local Business with a Global Perspective
“BIJA has always been on a mission to have a positive effect in the world by directly supporting women and communities globally. By creating this company, our purpose was to humanize the story of chocolate while providing a platform to raise economic opportunities for families around the world.”
BIJA has always been on a mission to have a positive effect in the world
The chocolate bars retain a similar look to the familiar BIJA packaging, but now each product features one of the women partners K’UL works with from each country of origin.
Photo by Paul Newman.
Nefi Garcia is the president of her all-women’s association in the Dominican Republic, Chocolala, that partners K’UL Chocolates.
She is one of the five founding members and has worked at Chocolala for 28 years. The original association members pooled their money to buy a hand grinder. They also brought cacao from their own properties to discover what they could make and worked together to develop ideas about how to build a business around cacao.
The K'UL Mission
“We believe that telling the human story of chocolate is incredibly essential. There is an interconnectivity between grower, processor, manufacturer, and the consumer; it’s symbiotic and critical that everyone is treated fairly and with dignity. Ultimately, we want our customers to feel confident that their purchases make a positive impact on the world we live in,” explained the couple.
it’s symbiotic and critical that everyone is treated fairly and with dignity
“We currently source cacao and work with producers in two countries: the Dominican Republic and Peru. In addition to our partnerships in these countries, we are looking to other origins such as Honduras, Ghana, and Vietnam.”
The new packaging is also very innovative, featuring a resealable zippered pouch to keep your chocolate fresh after opening and eliminating one layer of packaging. “So that’s less packaging and impact on the planet while staying 100% focused on the people that live here,” said Paul.
In 2020, K’UL will introduce a fully sustainable 100% compostable pouch
The company developed a custom production method to use its new resealable pouch that is unique in the industry. In 2020, K’UL will introduce a fully sustainable 100% compostable pouch, further minimizing its environmental footprint.
The Newmans, owners of K’UL Chocolates, value the development of personal relationships with the direct-trade cacao partners that supply their business. On this trip, Paul carries son Koen on his shoulders during a visit with Ramon Garcia in Altamira, Dominican Republic. The family visited to learn about the cooperative, view its drying facility, discuss the harvest, and secure beans for purchase.
Photo by Ariana Lee-Newman.
Changes in Bellingham
There are also some behind-the-scenes changes taking place at K’UL. “We have finished completing our new 4,000-square-foot chocolate factory in Bellingham. The factory includes a full bean-to-bar processing line that will be able to produce up to 1.5 million chocolate bars per year,” said Paul.
K’UL plans to open its facility to tours, so people can learn about the steps and processes involved in making bean-to-bar chocolate.
they now also roast the beans, make the chocolate, and mold and package the bars
Taking on the bean-to-bar production means the team at K’UL is growing. In addition to the work they have always done to source beans from cooperatives and women-owned producers, they now also roast the beans, make the chocolate, and mold and package the bars.
Staff at K'UL's recently opened 4,000-square-foot chocolate factory in Bellingham, Washington, sort cacao beans in preparation for roasting. The factory includes a full
bean-to-bar processing line that will be able to produce up to 1.5 million chocolate bars per year.
Photo courtesy of K'UL Chocolates.
“One of the most amazing discoveries for us was understanding the complete process and vertically integrating our sourcing with our own in-house chocolate production. Through this journey, we’ve learned that the alchemy and chemistry in making chocolate is truly nuanced. It is more creative and challenging than we ever could’ve realized; we knew it was worth learning the craft of chocolate-making as it gave us a holistic understanding of the industry in a way we didn’t previously have,” said Paul.
the alchemy and chemistry in making chocolate is truly nuanced
“The other discovery is the understanding that each ingredient such as cacao beans, sugar, and cocoa butter have different qualities that ultimately impact the overall flavor.
"A bean from one region has a different flavor profile than one from another and ultimately the recipes reflect the terroir of each region."
Photo courtesy of K'UL Chocolate.
Fulfilling a K'UL Mission
“But, most exciting for us overall is the more chocolate bars we produce and sell, the more we can support our mission! It is something that resonates around our hearts," said Paul.
the more chocolate bars we produce and sell, the more we can support our mission
“K’UL continues to carry on the mission to change the world through chocolate by elevating women, protecting children, and fighting slave labor. We have an unwavering commitment to producing ethically sourced, direct trade, handcrafted, small-batch, bean-to-bar chocolate that uses only organic and non-GMO ingredients.”